I’d had three half-finished book covers waiting around for a long time, probably a year or more, and never gotten around to finishing them. Partly it was a lack of time, and partly it was because I felt like I lacked any creative ideas. This is kind of unusual for me, but when I feel like I just don’t have anything in the idea well, it is almost always because I’m doing a book cover.
I think most artistic ventures involve creativity, and craftsmanship, and these are two separate things. Creativity is having the picture in your head of what something is going to be. Craftsmanship is what you need to make it happen. There are things that require a great deal of craftsmanship, like stained glass, in which you have to be absolutely precise. There are other things that require both craftmanship and creativity, like painting something you’re not looking at, say, a fantasy picture.
This requires creativity in that I have to come up with something interesting based on very few parameters except for the functionality. I can’t make it too thick. I can’t add things that are inflexible (like cardstock) that goes across the spine. I can’t use things that are messy, or fragile, or will peel off. So, there isn’t zero craftsmanship; I do need to have an awareness of my materials. But if the x axis is craftsmanship and the y axis is creativity, these book covers are high and on the left.
These charms are from a packet that a relative gave to me for Christmas. It’s tempting to hoard super cool stuff like this, but you have to remember that it’s meant to be used.
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Here’s the close up of the new crow image. This is the third crow design, fourth, if you count the one that didn’t turn out. As you can see, I painted back in some of the details with a brush, since not all the lines on the head and claws came out.
To set the ink, the directions say “use iron for 3-5 minutes per side at highest setting.” I learned the hard way that this burns the cloth. Instead, I used my little craft toaster over at about 250 degrees. I fold the tee shirts up and lay them in there with the design facing up. For the most part, this works brilliantly, but this shirt got a sleeve a little close to the heating element and scorched. I’ll live with it.
One of the consistent comments I’ve gotten from this is “you should sell these” or “have you considered selling these?” With the amount of work that goes into printing one of these shirts, I’d have to charge $50 a piece to earn minimum wage. I may make some for gifts or promotional giveaways, however.
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Once I finished the silk screen, I wanted to do a proof print to see how it turned out. I use block printing ink for this, as I have a lot of it in different colors. Since I didn’t want to do it for nothing, I printed the crows onto some blank notecards I’d bought at Michael’s at the huge sale I gorge myself at every Thanksgiving. Now I have a small set of printed notecards, and I also could figure out where the issues were with the silk screen.
For example, you may not be able to tell by looking at this photo, but the beak has a tiny dot at the end of it, and the claws seem to be truncated. On the tee shirts, I touched this up with a brush, but on the cards, I just left them. The last time I did crow silkscreens, I had a problem with the image not showing up very well, but this time I just did an extra flood sweep with the squeegie to make sure that enough ink went through the screen.
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This is kind of a weird picture, because it’s a selection of the tee shirts that I silkscreened my crow onto. I’ll post pictures of the crow later, a close up and some cards that I did.
This is actually a new image, not the same crow that I did earlier. I had done the earlier silk screen, but wanted to use the silkscreen for another project, so I washed off all the resist. Sadly, the screen turned out to not be large enough for the other project, so I cleaned it for naught. I ended up doing another silkscreen on that silk, which I’ll talk about in another post.
Fortunately, my dad had a hand-made silkscreen frame he’d made for printing decals for his model airplanes. His silk had resist on it that was probably ten years old, so I had to buy a length of new silkscreen silk, which was fine by me. New silk is better than used silk, because sometimes not all the resist comes off.
To make this crow design, I traced a proof of the crow I’d silkscreened earlier. I traced it twice, one facing right and one facing left, and then painted over both of them with drawing ink. The resist overlapped more than I wanted, and one of the birds got ruined, but this one was still mostly usable. After I was done, I printed crows on everything that didn’t have a crow on it, including some new shirts I got on sale at Target. I also printed in red ink on my dark tee shirts, because the black didn’t show up. It took the better part of two weeks to silkscreen everything, because I did both sides. This isn’t even all of the shirts, because some of them were in the laundry.
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My friend Keyan did this digital art inspired by TREEMAKER and she said I could post it here.
Posted in Random Musing, Story, writing | No Comments